Boris Johnson addresses 'ruthlessness' of Russian propaganda
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The study of 2,007 French people conducted by IFOP on behalf of the Reboot Foundation – established to research and advocate for more critical thinking education – found 52 percent of French people believe at least one of Russia’s false motives for invading Ukraine. It found 10 percent believe Russia is aiming to rid Ukraine of Nazism, 22 percent believe war is justified in the name of Russian security and that 23 percent believe the war is supported by Russian speaking Ukrainians who have been the victims of “discrimination by Ukrainian authorities”. The study also found the recent EU decision to ban Russian media such as RT and Sputnik on the grounds they were used to spread Russian propaganda is disapproved of by 34 percent of French people. People either on the far left or the far right of the political spectrum were also more likely to be susceptible to misinformation, the study found. Helen Lee Bouygues, president of the Reboot Foundation, told Express.co.uk why people fall for misinformation, stating that it has a lot to do with social media use.
She said: “We did the study in relation to social media frequency and found that there was a direct correlation between heavier use of social media and higher susceptibility to Russian misinformation.
“Because social media is so big it just amplifies our susceptibility to misinformation, because social media companies prey on our emotions.
“And when our emotions are preyed on, naturally, we become less rational thinkers.
“There have been psychological studies that show that even those things that don’t sound credible at first if you hear them repeated over and over again you start believing them.”
Ms Lee Bouygues said social media plays into this because, by following people or accounts that you believe to have more credence, an echo chamber is created and you hear single perspectives.
She added that a lot of people who believe misinformation receive their news solely from social media sites rather than verified news sources.
Ms Lee Bouygues said the thing she finds most “surprising” about the study was the overlap between people who believe misinformation about the war in Ukraine and misinformation about Covid vaccinations – with the survey showing 25 percent of French people believe at least one false theory relating to both.
Moreover, the study suggested 16 percent of people believed in conspiracy theories as well as in Russian propaganda and Covid misinformation.
Additionally, a third of French people admitted they share things online without first reading them or verifying the information.
However, surprisingly, the study showed that 95 percent of people surveyed thought they were good at identifying misinformation.
Ms Lee Bouygues said that, in order to avoid falling for misinformation, people should do a “digital detox”.
She said: “We should actually try to get our news directly from news sites rather than from social media.
“We should also be practising traditional media literacy tools, like checking who the author is, and how it’s financed. And our studies have shown that by reading an article or watching a video on better media literacy and identifying fake news, there is a difference between before and after.
“Also, don’t just click on the first article that you read when you do a search, but actually make the effort to go on the second or third page, because naturally the algorithm is based on your previous searches so it’s going to pop up with similar articles.
“And the goal of helping identify misinformation is to try to look at opposing views and different perspectives.”
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